Now that CRM success is more widely accepted, companies that directly interact with consumers have started to gain some traction with their customer initiatives. As a result, they’re beginning to understand the promise CRM holds when it comes to building relationships, fostering loyalty and creating new sales opportunities. For those companies that sell through traditional retail channels and third parties, however, CRM has not been regarded as a significant weapon in their arsenals, and certainly not as a driver of ROI. Instead, customer service departments and call centers often are viewed as line item expenses—simply the cost of doing business. This notion is incorrect and must be challenged.
Customer service departments drive an organization’s ultimate success or failure when it comes to customer relationships. Because they are the interactive focal point in determining the perceptions of new and existing customers, these departments are largely responsible for sustaining the trust and loyalty that translate into revenue growth.
Companies that realize strong ROI from their call center investment typically can summarize the job of customer service in three key steps:
1. Engage customers and gather information.
2. Use the information to show how customers benefit from a relationship with your company.
3. Interact with customers in a way that makes them glad they’re doing business with you, and ultimately secure their loyalty to your company or brand.
Customer service reps (CSRs) do more than help their customers in a “one-off” situation; they identify new opportunities to engage the customer in continuous dialogue. To do this, they often see customers not only as individuals, but as a member of a household. They have to recognize the revenue potential of every consumer household in relationship to their products or services.
For example, a customer service rep (CSR) who works for a computer hardware company will be much more effective if he knows that his customer has children in college and may be interested in a discount on computing accessories.